Asking people to not step out of their houses unless it is urgent, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the Covid-19 situation in the national capital is "very serious" with 10,732 cases of infection reported in the last 24 hours, the highest since the pandemic began.
"The fourth wave is more dangerous than the previous wave. The government is closely monitoring the situation", said the chief minister as he addressed a press conference in Delhi.
In just a few weeks, Delhi has gone from near-normalcy -- with less than 100 cases reported on a single day on February 16 -- to an exploding pandemic, a grim reminder that the virus is continuing to extract its toll.
Kejriwal said the current fourth wave of the pandemic in the city is "very dangerous" and is spreading at such a rapid rate that it has left many people baffled.
"Cases have escalated in a big way in the last 10-15 days. And, in the past 24 hours, the city has recorded 10,732 cases. The situation is very serious."
This is the highest single-day spike in Delhi since the outbreak of the pandemic. The previous highest ever single-day spike in Delhi -- 8,593 cases -- was reported on November 11, 2020. That day, the city had recorded 131 COVID-19 deaths, the highest single-day fatality count to date.
The CM said his government does not want to impose lockdown in Delhi but such a situation may arise if there is a rush to the hospitals and beds are unavailable for serious patients.
"We need your cooperation. If your cooperation is received and the situation of hospitals is under control, there will be no need to impose a lockdown in Delhi. But, if beds in the hospitals fell short and are unavailable, then lockdown may have to be imposed," he said.
He said lockdown should be imposed by any government only when its hospital system has collapsed.
"I am not in favour of lockdown. I believe lockdown is not a solution to deal with COVID-19. It should be imposed if the hospital system collapses," he said.
The Chief Minister, however, asked people to remain in home isolation if infected with the virus instead of rushing to hospitals, saying the most important thing is keeping hospital beds vacant for serious patients.
He said that there was a peculiar contradiction that despite vaccine availability in the country, coronavirus was spreading fast. "As per data available with me, 65 per cent COVID-19 patients are below 45 years. How will coronavirus stop when 65 per cent of affected are below 45 years for whom there is no vaccination," he said.
Kejriwal said that in a recent meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, two three chief ministers requested restrictions on vaccination to be lifted.
"Our government is ready to vaccinate people door-to-door. The time is to launch vaccination at a war footing by lifting restrictions of age and setting up vaccination centres," he said.
He said that experts say that despite receiving the vaccine, people may get infected with COVID-19 but they will not be seriously ill. So, people need to wear masks and observe all the precautions even after getting vaccinated, he said.
Kejriwal said his government is keeping an eye on the situation, and he is personally monitoring it. "We are doing whatever needs to be done and getting help from everyone including the Central government."
He appealed to people to cooperate with the government in checking the spread of COVID-19.
"Any time we encountered a new wave, you cooperated with great vigour. Not for anyone else, but for ourselves, our own health and our own family; we will have to follow all the protocols strictly.
"We reiterate three things quite frequently- wear masks; maintain social distancing and wash your hands frequently. Add one more thing to it -- step out of the house only when necessary," he said.
The CM, citing complaints of unavailability of beds in hospitals, suggested people refer to the Delhi government app for this.
"It is a request that you must not run to the private hospitals. Good treatment would be provided even in government hospitals. If your app shows that beds are available in government hospitals, please go there."
He cautioned, however, that people should go to the hospital only when it is really needed. "If everyone starts to run towards the hospitals, we would fall short of beds and ICUs. Go to the hospital, only if necessary. Otherwise, stay in home isolation. Delhi has the best home isolation system in the world."
He said the fourth peak was highly contagious and it was needed to keep hospital beds vacant for serious patients.
"I have seen how in some foreign countries, hospitals ran short. It is such a contagious disease that if we fall short of hospitals, it would become a serious problem, he said
The CM said the daily number of COVID-19 tests has been raised from 80,000-85,000 to over one lakh over the past few days. Saying that some people were telling him they are fed up with wearing face masks, Kejriwal asked them to think about the doctors and the nurses treating COVID-19 patients.
"Aren’t they tired? They are more tired than you are. If they can work for 24 hours from the past year, risking their own life, then the least you can do is to wear a mask. This 'getting tired' is not allowed for your own good," he said.
Kejriwal asked all political parties to work together to fight the pandemic, saying it was not time to do politics and point fingers. He also appealed to religious and social organisations and NGOs to contribute to the fight against the virus and check its spread.
(With PTI Inputs)
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